In 2017 it's shocking that the President of the United States is unwilling to accept the fact that all Americans should be able to serve in the military regardless of their gender.
"Transgender military members are brave Americans who are selflessly protecting our freedoms," says Kit Malone, Transgender Educator and Advocate with the ACLU of Indiana. "There is no basis for turning away transgender people from military service, and there is no cost or drawback associated with allowing them to serve."
Recent studies show that about one-fifth of all transgender adults are veterans, making transgender people approximately twice as likely as others to serve in the military.
"We have come to understand that basic equality, as expressed by equal protection, guarantees everyone equal rights," says Ken Falk, Legal Director of the ACLU of Indiana. "For the President to take this step against people who serve America is shockingly regressive."
We stand with all transgender military members and want to hear from you. If you are transgender and have experienced discrimination please contact us.
By Jane Henegar, Executive Director of the ACLU of Indiana
There is a threat to electoral integrity in Indiana and across the nation. It isn't hidden within voter data. It is right out in the open; it is the number of votes cast in our elections. The U.S. voter turnout is extremely low compared to other countries. We ranked 31st among the 35 countries according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and Indiana had the worst voter turnout in the nation in 2014.
Because of voter access and turnout problems, too many eligible voters do not vote in Indiana and across the country. But, instead of focusing on making sure America's elections are safe, fair, and transparent, we are seeing a coordinated attack on voting rights in our nation.
Most recently, the demand for voter information from the "Election Integrity" Commission, chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, raises substantial privacy concerns. Many states have refused to share data and risk the security of voter's personal information.
Here in Indiana, the Secretary of State's office complied with a limited amount of the voter data demanded by Kris Kobach, vice chair of the Commission. Under Indiana law a voter's name, address and congressional district are available to the public. Otherwise, voter information is kept private.
The voter suppression commission, as we should more aptly call it, requested full names of all registrants, addresses and dates of birth, last four digits of social security numbers, political party and voter history. Kobach has promised that "any documents that are submitted to the full Commission will also be made available to the public." There is no guarantee that the information will be kept anonymous and secure. For the ACLU of Indiana, the lack of clarity and potential misuse of this data raises substantial constitutional concerns.
This Commission's creation and its overreach for information are indicative of something larger. At the same time that the "Election Integrity" Commission sent out their request, the Department of Justice informed all 50 states that they "are reviewing voter registration list maintenance procedures in each state covered by the NVRA [National Voter Registration Act]" and asking how states plan to remove voters from the rolls. The ACLU sees this as a sign that the Department of Justice may sue states in the hopes of forcing them to remove voters from the rolls, endangering the rights of many.
Given these concerns, the lack of transparency of the Commission is alarming. Which is why the ACLU has filed suit. Federal law requires that meetings be open to the public. The Commission must provide timely notice of meetings, allowing for in-person attendance, and make written records available to the public. Federal law also states that the Commission must ensure that it's not inappropriately influenced by special interests or the president himself.
The "Election Integrity" Commission has violated federal requirements and impeded constitutional rights. We will hold it accountable. It's our elected officials' responsibility to preserve and advance the right to vote, not to hinder and impair.
The right to vote is essential to a vibrant democracy. The ACLU of Indiana will continue to protect our democracy and support our constitutional right to have our voices heard.
Take action against this attack on voter's rights
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 29, 2017
INDIANAPOLIS -- A federal court today blocked provisions of a restrictive new abortion law, SEA 404, from taking effect, granting a request by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana (ACLU) on behalf of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky (PPINK) and its patients. Signed by Governor Eric Holcomb earlier this year, SEA 404 sought to impose unconstitutional requirements on physicians and health care providers as well as undue burdens on young women's personal medical decisions.
"Today's ruling is a victory for women and another rebuke of politicians who insist on putting their own agenda ahead of women's health and safety," said Jane Henegar, ACLU of Indiana Executive Director. "Today's ruling should also send a clear message to politicians in the capitol to stop putting arbitrary and invasive bureaucratic hurdles between women and their personal medical decisions."
SEA 404 included an unnecessary and dangerous add-on to Indiana's existing parental consent law. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that a minor who is unable or unwilling to obtain parental consent for an abortion must be allowed to obtain an abortion if a judge determines that she is sufficiently mature to make the decision herself or that an abortion is in her best interest. Indiana has long had such a procedure. SEA 404, however, would afford another opportunity for a parent to block a minor's decision to obtain an abortion by allowing parents to be notified, even in cases in which a judge has determined that a young woman is mature enough to make the decision herself. The Court concluded that this provision "places an unjustifiable burden on mature minors in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment."
"This decision affirms that the state must continue to provide a safe alternative for young women who - whatever their circumstances - are unable to talk to their parents about this difficult and personal decision," said ACLU of Indiana Legal Director, Ken Falk. "Instead of protecting women and families, these heavy-handed restrictions would have burdened young women's constitutional rights and put their health and safety at risk."
Another provision of the new legislation would have imposed unconstitutional requirements on physicians to review identification that is not required for any other medical or surgical procedure. A third provision of SEA 404 violates the First Amendment free speech requirements by silencing health care providers who may give information to young women about their legal options in seeking an abortion in the absence of parental consent.
"Judge Sarah Evans Barker's ruling is an affirmation of abortion rights in Indiana," said Betty Cockrum, President and CEO of PPINK. "PPINK encourages teenagers to have open and honest conversations with their family members, but we recognize that not every teen is able to do so safely. SEA 404 sought to silence our staff and prevent fully-informed conversations with our patients. It is blatantly unconstitutional and yet another example of politicians trying to make medical decisions for Hoosiers."
The case, Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky v. Commissioner, Indiana State Department of Health, et al., Case1:17-cv-01636-SEB-DML, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, on May 18, 2017 and was decided on June 28, 2017.
INDIANAPOLIS - The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana praised a ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit affirming that Tippecanoe County violated the First Amendment when it denied a marijuana legalization group permission to hold a rally on the courthouse grounds in Lafayette. The ACLU of Indiana brought the lawsuit on behalf of Higher Society of Indiana, Inc., an organization that advocates and rallies for the legalization of marijuana.
Under the ruling, which affirms the district court's opinion, Tippecanoe County is blocked from enforcing its policy of only allowing events on courthouse grounds that comport with the county's views.
"The freedom of speech is a pillar of our democracy and a fundamental right guaranteed by the First Amendment," said Ken Falk, ACLU of Indiana Legal Director. "Tippecanoe County's policy of allowing certain groups to rally on courthouse grounds while silencing others is a clear violation of the First Amendment. This ruling is a victory for free speech, and for the rights of all citizens to make their voices heard."
In its opinion, the court concluded that "because the County's policy restricts private speech and it is not viewpoint-neutral, it violates the First Amendment. Higher Society was entitled to a preliminary injunction. We affirm the district court's well-reasoned opinion."
"Government officials can't stop people from speaking just because they don't like what's being said," said Jane Henegar, ACLU of Indiana Executive Director. "As we have for nearly 100 years, the ACLU will continue to challenge unconstitutional restrictions on free speech and defend the right of all Americans to speak their minds."
In May 2016, Higher Society held a rally on courthouse property, but was denied the ability to return to the public space because of a "closed forum" policy that allows county commissioners individually and as a whole to determine which favored groups have access and which do not. In December, the ACLU won a preliminary injunction in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, which the county then appealed.
May 18, 2017
"The ACLU of Indiana stands in strong defense of a woman's right to make decisions about her health, including her reproductive health and future. For over four decades, courts have confirmed that this constitutional right extends to unemancipated minors who have been deemed, by a judge, to be sufficiently mature to make a decision to obtain an abortion without parental consent. SEA 404 imposes new burdens on a young woman's access to abortion and on her health care providers, in violation of often reaffirmed constitutional rights."
ACLU of Indiana
May 18, 2017